Week 4: Fighting For Your Kids

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Parenting may be the most demanding and the most challenging job a human being could have. Parenting is tough work. It’s not for wimpy people, it takes courage, grit, tenacity, persistence, deep love, unselfishness and a lot of other things.


What Kids Need From Their Families

What do kids need from their families? Let’s take a look at four symbols for a family that brings out the best in their kids.

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It doesn’t require a whole lot of intelligence or strategy to play this game. It’s purely a game of chance. So why does the game Candy Land represent amazing families?

1. Kids need a family that is fun.

This is the missing ingredient in so many families today. Some families, over time, become more and more serious. Who wants to come home from school to that? Who wants to come home from work to that?

The fact is, your family is not a boot camp and parents are not drill sergeants. Your family is not a business and parents are not CEOs. A family is not a laboratory and parents are not research scientists experimenting on differen parenting tactics.

There is no perfect child, no perfect parent and no perfect family. There is no science to being a family, it’s an art. Fun and laughter is a skill that has to be learned. 

Now, most people know that the Bible encourages us to work. The Bible also encourages us to have fun. The Apostle Paul says this to Timothy…

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17

“Children are a gift from God.” Psalm 127:3

A gift is given and it’s meant to be enjoyed. God meant for you to play and have some fun. Solomon tells us to enjoy every day, because you don’t know how long you’re going to live. You don’t know if you’ve got next week, next month.

Your kids know if you’re enjoying them or not. People don’t remember what you say, but they will remember how you made them feel. That’s important advice for any relationship, especially a parent. Your kids aren’t going to remember much of what you said especially from the early years of their lives, but they will remember how you made them feel.

The greatest gift you can give your kids is your time, because when you give them your time, you’re giving your life. So Candy Land is the symbol of what amazing families give their kids. because amazing families are fun and playful.

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We use this to water flowers, plants, vegetables. In many ways a family is like a garden. You have to grow it and develop it. A garden doesn’t grow on its own. You have to weed it. You have to water it. You have to care for it. This is the second characteristic that kids need from their families.

2. Kids need growth.

If your family’s not growing, your family is boring. You’re just stuck in a rut. Look at how Jesus grew. This is when Jesus was twelve years old.

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with man.” Luke 2:52 NIV

Notice four kinds of growth there. 

  • Grow in wisdom- intellectual growth/mental growth
  • Grow in stature – physical health
  • Grow in favor with God – spiritual growth
  • Grow in favor with man- relational growth

Take a look at some things you must learn in your family. If you don’t learn them there, life’s going to be tough for you.

-What to do with emotions 

How do I deal with how I feel? In an amazing family you learn how to recognize your feelings, and how to express your feelings correctly rather than incorrectly. A family should be a safe place to learn how to deal with anger, disappointment, joy, winning and losing. We learn how to recognize good emotions from harmful ones.

-How to handle conflict

When it’s appropriate, kids need to see problems being worked out and how we deal when we have differences, get hurt or get mad.

-How to handle loss 

Nobody wins all the time. In fact, for a kid to have an unbroken string of wins early in life with no losses is actually detrimental to them. Because when they get out in the real world and they face loss, it’s devastating. Failure isn’t final and the best place to learn that, is in the home.

-What matters most

You have to help your kids know what is important and what is not. The world teaches that all that matters is how you look, that image is everything. The world teaches that the more money you have, the more fulfilled you’ll be. The world teaches that everything is about sex. The world teaches that the more you can get people to praise you, the more valuable you are. That’s not true. We have to learn what matters most.

-How to develop good habits

Habits determine our character. Now, how do you help your family grow in this? Here are two ways that help people grow and two ways that don’t. This applies in every area of life.

  • People grow through example

Most things are going to be caught, not taught. You don’t have to turn everything into a teachable moment. Jesus always led by example. He washed the disciples feet and then said go and do likewise.

  • People grow through conversations

Most conversations we have with kids have to do with schedules, eating or homework. With so few conversations about the stuff that really matters in life.

  • People NEVER grow through criticizing

We think that being critical of someone will actually help them grow. It has never, ever, ever worked. Nagging, condemning and complaining don’t work. Because when you criticize, you’re focusing on what you don’t want rather than what you do want. Eventually, people realize you are impossible to please. Through all your incessant criticizing they will never measure up.

You have to promote the alternative. That’s called repentance. Changing your mind, changing your belief and changing your focus. Repentance doesn’t mean stop doing that. It means start doing this, walk this way instead.

  • People NEVER grow through comparing

Not all comparison is bad. You need people in your life that help you see areas you can grow in. Unhealthy comparison is comparing someone in your life to anybody else. You should never compare your wife to anybody else. You should never compare your husband to anybody else. You certainly should never compare your kids.

 

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A raincoat is for protection. Jesus said it rains on both those who do right and those who do wrong. Good things and bad things come into everybody’s life whether you’re doing it right or doing it wrong.

Every member of your family is going to go through storms: emotional storms, financial storms, moral storms, physical storms and relational storms. When you go through a storm you’re going to need some protection. Families are meant to be a raincoat in the storms of life.

3. Kids need protection in storms

Not protection from storms, because you’re not going to be able to protect them from all the storms. No matter who in the family is going through a storm, everyone is there to help each other, we protect each other. Families stick together. Families are a raincoat.

“Reverence for the Lord gives a man deep strength; his children have a place of refuge and security.” Proverbs 14:26

Here are three storms we face that families can help with:

ChangeChange is a storm in life and can be upsetting, particularly to kids. You need family for every major event or even minor changes.

Harmful ideasMany children are provided for but they are not protected.  They are going to movies and watching shows they have no business watching, reading books and listening to music they have no business being engaged in and following celebrities youtube channels they have no business following. Part of parenting is making choices for your kids that they can’t make themselves.

Rejection: This is a storm all of us face at some point in life and it’s the most painful storm of all. When we feel betrayed or rejected. When your children are rejected or when your husband or your wife feels rejection at work, the family needs to rally around and be there as a raincoat in that storm. Kids aren’t going to make every team and get every job. So instead of chewing out the coach or the teacher, be there for your kid.

Kids instinctively know they can’t take care of themselves. They know they need a family to take care of them. This is why the most vulnerable people in the world are orphans. Kids need to be cared for. Particularly in the storms of life. Rock Brook is a church full of teachers and nurses and coaches and RBfK teachers and parents who’ve adopted and people who love the kids in their life, their grandkids and nieces and nephews and friends. We are a church that supports life and is pro-life for everyone, from conception to natural death. That’s called family. Families are for life.

 

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Amazing families don’t just care about themselves, they care about others and they actually care about the whole world because God loves the world. Average families are self-centered. They only care about themselves and their own kids. This is the secret that moves you from average to amazing.  You begin to care about more than just your own family.

4. Kids need serving opportunities

The way you serve God is by serving others. Kids need families that understand it’s not about them. Amazing families teach their kids they were made by God for a mission and they were shaped to serve God. Parents are to instill in their kids the value to care about other people.

“Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds.”  Hebrews 10:24

Amazing familes teach each other to show love and we teach each other to do good deeds. Good deeds are called ministry, they are called service. A good example of this is a Cornelius’ family in the book of Acts.

“He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; they gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”  Acts 10:2

What a great legacy! What if 2,000 years from today, people say your family was devout and God fearing, that you gave generously to those in need and you prayed to God regularly. Average families don’t do those things. Amazing families do.

Are you modeling these things to your kids? Are you teaching your kids to be selfish or think of others? If they see you being generous, they’re going to be generous. If they see you having gospel conversations, they will learn how to talk to their friends about Jesus too.

Amazing families are not perfect families, but they are intentional. They become amazing by choice.

You’re not an amazing family by accident. You become an amazing family by making choices, decisions, commitments and even making sacrifices. If this isn’t your story then today you can say, 

No matter what stage my family is in, I’m going to make the rest of it, the best of it. We’re going to start a new legacy.

“Choose today whom you will serve… As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord!”  Joshua 24:15

It doesn’t matter what other families do, me and my family, we’re going to serve the Lord. Until you make that decision dad, husband, mom, as for me and my family we’re going to serve the Lord, family isn’t even going to make sense.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on Fighting for Your Parents and taking care of your parents in their old age?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Kid’s need certain things that are best given to them from their family…

1. Fun (1 Timothy 6:17, Psalm 1:27)

2. Growth (Luke 2:52)

What do we learn from our families?

  • What to do with our feelings.
  • How to handle conflict.
  • How to handle loss.
  • What matters most.
  • How to develop good habits.

How?

  • Through example
  • Through conversations
  • NOT through criticism
  • NOT through comparing

3. Protection in storms (Proverbs 14:26)

Types of storms…

  • Change
  • Harmful ideas
  • Rejection

4. Serving opportunities (Hebrews 10:24, Acts 10:2, Joshua 24:15)

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. What was your family environment like when you were growing up?
  3. Family development occurs in an environment of lifelong learning in which everybody encourages growth in everybody else. What are some ways children can encourage their parents in physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental growth?
  4. Things that can be learned only in families include how to handle feelings, how to handle conflict, how to handle loss, and what values matter most. Briefly describe one of these points that you did or did not learn as a child in your family.
  5. Parents should set a good example for their children. What kinds of deeds are practical to demonstrate to children?
  6. In what practical ways do you think you can teach your children about Scripture?
  7. Compare the aftereffects of criticizing children with the aftereffects of enlightening them with love regarding their misbehavior or wrongdoing.
  8. What are ways family members can protect each other in storms of life such as life changes, failure, or rejection?

Tell Someone Else

Do you know anyone who could benefit from this message? Consider who God is leading you to encourage this week in light of this message.

 

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Week 3: Fighting For Your Parents

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We all have parents but, not everyone’s situation is the same. Some of our parents live in another part of the country, while other’s parents live close by. For some of us, both of our parents are still living, while other people, one or both of our parents have already died. Some of us are caring for our aged parents right now, while others think our parents are going to look after us forever. Regardless of what the situation is we all want to finish well with our parents. 

One of the Ten Commandments tells us to, 

“Honor your father and mother.”  Exodus 20:12 NIV

The word “honor” means to treat them with importance. It doesn’t mean you always agree with them. It doesn’t mean they didn’t hurt you. But you recognize their importance in your life.

“If anyone does not provide for his own relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  1 Timothy 5:8 NIV

If you claim to be a believer in Christ, but don’t care for your family, it means your words and your life do not match. There is no greater model of caring for an aging parent than Jesus.

“When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” John 19:26-27 NIV

Jesus Christ was hanging on the cross, dying, and in the middle of the greatest spiritual and physical struggle of all time He makes sure His mother is cared for in her old age. If you had any doubt about whether this is an important issue or not, that settles it. Caring for your parents is the right thing. It’s the Christlike thing to do.

How do we face this huge challenge in our lives? Wouldn’t you love it if someone would show you a few simple decisions that will really make a difference. They can’t make life perfect, but they can really make a difference.


To Honor My Parents I Will…

#1 – Make the decision to meet their needs

“Do for others what you would like them to do for you.”  Matthew 7:12 NLT

Figure out what you would like your kids to do for you as you get older and that’s what you do for your parents as they get older. Your parents don’t want you to assume control of their lives while they can still live on their own.

Meet needs, real needs, but don’t treat them like they’re old. There will come a day when your parents need you more. Suddenly, the child becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child. When that day comes it can be a confusing time. The Bible calls that day an opportunity to give back, to repay our parents.

“The church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much.” 1 Timothy 5:3-4 NLT

Start Now.

Prepare to meet their needs now. Honor your parents by visiting them, taking trips with them, writing them, inviting them over for the weekend, doing odd jobs for them, helping them work through issues. Start now – don’t delay.

#2 – Make the decision to accept change/reality.

Jesus was talking with one of His disciples about the changes that would happen as that disciple grew older. Jesus said, 

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  John 21:18 NIV 

We don’t know what’s going to happen to us at the end of our lives. It’s different for every person, but Jesus tells us that as we get older, things change.

One of the changes that can happen is we lose control of our lives. Whenever your parents or anybody feel like they’re losing control the emotion that goes with that is fear. It’s a scary thing to lose control of your life. The only way to counter that fear is to recognize that God is in control even when you’re not. In order to accept this new reality there are a couple things we need to release.

  • Release your dreams

We have dreams about how things are going to end with our parents, but those dreams rarely match reality. Studies show that half of us will be in a nursing home. That may not be how we want it to turn out. So you release those dreams to God and Him for whatever happens. 

“Always be joyful. Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. This is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NCV

  • Release your guilt

Trying to finish well with your parents can produce guilt. Even people who gave a super human effort in caring for their parents can still feel guilt. It wasn’t your fault that your parents got older. It wasn’t their fault. It was nobody’s fault.

Guilt says, “If I’d done something different, this wouldn’t have happened.” Aging and even death are just a part of life. So you have to recognize it wasn’t your fault.

When you wish it would have worked out differently, share your disappointment with God and release your guilt.

Some of you have genuine guilt about how you handled your parents’ last days. There are things you should have done differently. How do you handle that kind of guilt? You release it to God.

You recognize that He’s a forgiving God. He understands that you and I can make confused and selfish decisions and He forgives us for that. If you don’t deal with guilt correctly, you’ll carry it into other relationships and it will ruin not only your past but the present and the future.

#3 – Make the decision to share the burden.

Many of you are under great stress over this very issue. If someone had told you to take on the load you are carrying, you would known you couldn’t handle it. But it came on you little by little by little and you are now carrying a load that no one is meant to carry alone.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV 

You may read this verse and think, you’re the one who’s supposed to carry everybody else’s burdens. So God included another verse just three lines later.

“…for each one should carry his own load.”  Galatians 6:5 NIV

None of us should carry all of the burdens of life, but all of us are supposed to carry some of the burdens of life. If you aren’t carrying any burdens other than just your own – then share the load and carry somebody else’s burden.

If you’re trying to carry all the burden by yourself, then share the load and let other people help carry that burden.

Have an honest talk with your extended family and decide how to share the load with each other. Don’t get hung up on trying to share the load equally. Instead, try to share the load effectively.

#4 – Make the decision to balance your life.

If I pick up a really big weight and try to carry it, it requires balance. Some of you are carrying a big weight in life and you’re way out of balance. It’s all about other people for you right now. Jesus talked about balance in when He said,

“Love others as well as you would love yourself.” Mark 12:31 MSG

If the way you’re giving care is pleasing to God, you’ll be physically, emotionally and spiritually strong. God doesn’t expect you to ruin your health or do things in a way that makes you feel far from Him and others.

There’s no doubt that the balance in life does shift and change. There are times of crisis and emergency, but that doesn’t mean you have to become unbalanced. It means you need strive for balance all the more.

The only perfect person to walk this earth was Jesus Christ. Even He had to take time to get away and rest in order to come back and minister to people. In order to make it through the process of caring for your aging parents, you have to make the commitment to balance your life.

#5 – Expect to grow.

“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:3-4 MSG

Now if you are right in the middle of caring for an aging parent. The last thing you want is somebody telling you how you’re going to grow through this. So if you’re in the middle of caring for an aging parent right now, you can tune out this point. 

But for the people who already have been through this or who will go through this in the future, you will grow the most through the difficult seasons of life. 

Through the time spent with your aging parent, you may have conversations or reconciliation you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Your patience might grow waiting for doctor visits and dealing with bureaucrats, lawyers and pharmacists. You will develop new levels of patience in your life.

#6 – Make the decision to trust in God.

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 NIV

Trust in God and He will give you rest in any situation. Maybe in dealing with an aging parent, you have come up against something you can’t do anything about. Have you hit that wall?

Usually when you hit a wall, you just climb right over it. But there are some walls we can’t climb over. Old age is one of them. What do you do when you hit that kind of a wall? 

One option is to run away from it and find a wall that you can climb over on your own. That might make you think you feel better. The other option is to recognize the reality of the situation and look to God who is bigger than any wall you will face and trust in Him. That’s what those circumstances invite us to do, to trust in Him who is greater than anything that we are going to face.

Trust in Him. Don’t go through this alone. Establish a personal relationship with God where you find His strength and His power. That’s one of the decisions you need to make to trust in Him.

When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned, the hard trials that come will not hurt you.”  Isaiah 43:2 TEV

Notice that verse says, When you pass through deep waters…When you go through fiery trials. It doesn’t if, it says when. None of us are protected from the tough times of life, but God promises that when you go through those tough times, He will be with you. He will strengthen you. He will not fail you. You can put your trust in Him.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on life change and baptism? When we are in Christ our lives have changed from knowing the historical Jesus to knowing a personal Jesus, death to life, being a fan of Jesus to being a follower of Jesus and me to we.

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week, Pastor Kelly continued the Fight For series by talking about caring for your aging parents. Some of the key scripture passages are listed below.  Read each passage and then share with the group what you find challenging and/or encouraging about each verse. 

“Honor your father and mother.” Exodus 20:12 NIV

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially his immediate family, he has denied the faith ads is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8 NIV

“The church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much.”  1 Timothy 5:3-4 NLT

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  John 21:18 NIV

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. …for each one should carry his own load.”  Galatians 6:2,5 NIV

“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and ell developed, not deficient in any way.”  James 1:3-4 MSG

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 NIV

Application

  1. Briefly assess your situation with your parents.  What are their needs?
  2. What changes or new realities do you need to accept regarding your parents?
  3. Are there burdens you need to share with others? Are there other’s burdens you need to help carry?
  4. Are there areas of your life that have gotten out of balance?  Too self-less?  Too selfish?
  5. What areas of growth can you identify in your life during this season with your parents?
  6. What are some ways you can deepen your trust in God?

Tell Someone Else

Do you know anyone who could benefit from this message? Consider who God is leading you to encourage this week in light of this message.

 

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I Am One Life Changed (Celebrating 1,000 Baptisms)

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We’re celebrating baptism today at Rock Brook Church. We celebrate this every month, but this month we’re celebrating 1,000 baptisms since we planted. Today’s post is on the significance of baptism.

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NIV

We used to think Jesus was just another guy walking the earth, then we discover that He has the power to change lives. Now, any man, any woman, at any place or time with any background, if they are in Christ, are now a brand new creation and something powerful has changed in them. The old them has gone away and a brand new them is being created in Jesus Christ.

In Christ. If anyone is in Christ. The new creation comes when we get into a relationship with Jesus. It’s when our life and Christ’s life are joined together.

You don’t get the new creation by getting in the water. You get it by getting in Christ.

You get saved in Christ, not the water.

Baptism does not make you a believer. It shows that you are a believer.

Baptism doesn’t save you and get you into heaven. It shows that you are saved and getting into heaven.

The only thing that gets you into heaven is you trusting in Jesus. Baptism is the outward symbol of faith in Jesus.

Just like when a man and woman publicly declare two words, “I do.” They didn’t know all the implications of those words. When you get in the water, you are saying when I got in Christ I became a new creation. It doesn’t mean you won’t stumble, it means your desires have changed and your defense for life has changed because now Jesus is in you.

No one getting baptized says, “I used to be a mess but now I’m perfect.” No! The message is, I could never be perfect, but Jesus is perfect and I got into Jesus by putting my faith in Him and I’ve come to announce my life is joined up with the perfect one and he is going to work in me to make me like him. And my life is now changing.

So what is changing? What is the life change that we’re saying happens when we get baptized? 


When We Are In Christ Our Lives Have Changed From…

  • Knowing the historical Jesus to knowing a personal Jesus.

You go from saying, “I knew there was a Jesus in the pages of history, but now I know there is a real Jesus in my life.” That’s a big shift. It’s hard to find someone in our community that doesn’t know the historical Jesus.

When we get baptized we’re saying Jesus doesn’t live on the pages of history but that Jesus lives. Even more than that, He lives in the lives of people who put their faith in Him. We’re not talking about history, we’re talking about a living real person. We’re not talking about subscribing to a set of principles entering into a list of rules, we’re talking about entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.”  John 12:9-11 NLT

Many people put their faith in Jesus. They came simply hearing about Him, but they left having put their faith in Him. Their life changed from knowing about someone to believing Jesus could save them.

  • Death to Life.

Sin doesn’t make us bad. It makes us dead.

No one’s baptism message is that they were a really bad person and now they are going to try really hard to be a better person. That’s not the picture of baptism. 

Why did God give us a picture of water baptism? Why is it important that we actually immerse people, dunk people under the water? Because Jesus got baptized under the water. He didn’t get in the river and splash around. He got in the river and was immersed in the water. That’s actually what the word baptism means, to dip under the water.

When you do laundry, you don’t sprinkle water on it, the washer fills up with water and you baptize the clothes. Every baptism in the Bible is by immersion. Even the churches that practice more convenient methods would not disagree with this. Everyone agrees to do immersion, it’s just convenient to do it other ways, but we’re going to do it the way it’s done in the Bible.

Now, why was Jesus baptized? It was a picture of what was coming. Jesus was dedicated by his parents at a young age. That was their decision and He wasn’t dishonoring their decision. Jesus decided that this is a choice I am making and it’s pointing to the ultimate choice I will be making. For us it’s a picture of what happens when we trust in Christ to be our Savior. So you put someone down and you quickly bring them back up. We bring them up quickly because we don’t live under water. When Christ died, you died. When Christ was raised, you was raised. When He went down in the depths for your sin, you went down, but when He was raised, it’s as though you were raised up too.

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4 NIV

This isn’t a picture of good to bad. If it were, we’d have shampoo and big brushes and scrub everyone clean in the water. This is a picture of something that happened in our heart, in the core of who we are, that when we put our faith in Jesus, that though we had a sentence of death on our lives because of sin, we now have the gift of life that will never, never end. We were down but are alive in Christ now.

  • Being a fan of Jesus to being a follower of Jesus.

That’s what baptism represents. You go from saying you like Jesus to saying you are following Him! Day one of the church, after the hope of Jesus was preached,

“Those who accepted his message were baptized…”  Acts 2:41 NIV

People who are getting baptized aren’t just saying they are fond of Jesus, they’re saying I’m following him. They’re going from being an occasional “Jesus person” to an every day follower. Let’s look at an amazing example of this in scripture.

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[a] eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”).

This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’

Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked.

‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

‘He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.’

The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’ Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then  both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.”  Acts 8:26-38 NIV

If you’ve put your trust in Christ, nothing should stand in the way. In the Bible, everyone was baptized spontaneously. No one planned it months in advance. They said, now is the time. Let’s do it. If you haven’t been baptized, do it right away!

  • Me to We.

It used to be all about you, but coming forward in baptism tells people it’s all about we now. Jesus is in your life, in your relationships, in your purpose and plan. Now it’s we and you’re going to want the whole world to know that. You used to do things your way and now you do things our way. You used to do things in your own strength and now you do them by way of His strength in you. Now it’s about letting Him lead. It used to be about getting what you want, now it’s about us getting the glory that He deserves because He’s the one who brought you from death to life. You used to be an individual rolling through life and now you are walking with Him. You’re with Jesus!

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”   Matthew 10:32-33 NIV

We don’t have to walk alone any more. In every environment, temptation, trial, dark night and bright day, everywhere you go, you are walking in the door with the One who rules the heavens and the earth and the story isn’t, “You’re with you.” The story is “You’re with Him.” You’re with Jesus and He’s with you. Your life has changed. It’s not you anymore it’s we.

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:26-27 NIV

Baptism is the door to the church, the family of God. It’s the way you say, “I’m all in! I’m in the family of God.”

There is one life that had to change before any of our one lives could change. Jesus had to change his life and change his status. We normally only think about our life change, our marriage that was put back together, our life being restored or our future coming into view, but remember that someone else voluntarily changed their life before we could. Before we could ever say I’m in a relationship with Jesus and I’m following Him, Jesus had to change His status and His life from:

Heavenly to Earthly

He had been forever heavenly. Before creation or time, He dwelt in heaven. Until the day when heavenly changed to earthly and a baby was born in Bethlehem. Jesus said, I’d like everybody to know that I’m not just going to dabble with this or splash around in it, I’m going to become fully immersed. Fully God, but fully human. Not only that but his life changed from:

Son of God to Son of Man

If you look through scripture Jesus is referred to as part of the trinity, as God the Son. He’d always been the Son of God but never the Son of Man until Mary gave birth. Jesus is now the Son of Man.

He didn’t go from being God to Son of Man to just back to being God. We will see the scars in his hands. He is always the God Man and the Son of Man because He chose to update His status. Then there was a day when he changed his life from:

Enthroned to Crucified

Jesus was enthroned over the universe the heavens and all things that were created that by his own word the heavens were made. Enthroned in this amazing place of power was the Son of God, but there was a day He changed that from enthroned to crucified.

Nobody could take His life, He had to lay it down. Though He was enthroned, He chose to be lifted up in a different way. Because He knew if He was lifted up, He would draw all people to Himself. So they crucified the Son of God and hoisted him up on a pole to die. At 3:00 in the afternoon his status changed again from:

Alive to Dead

The Son of God, the Son of Man for three days that change just hung in the balance. The one who healed lepers, raised the dead and welcomed sinners was dead. Aren’t you glad there was one more change? Because Jesus life changed again from:

Dead to Alive                                 

Jesus knew He had to change your future, every nation, every tribe, the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the rich, the poor…He changed it all. He made everyone a brand new creation so that anyone who puts their faith in Him could become a new creation.

The old is gone and the new has come. His life and our lives changed from dead to alive. He’s alive! Now, we won’t regard one another as we used to, but we’ll see one another as brand new because we are in Christ.

Visit the Baptism page on our website for Frequently Asked Questions.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message or your conversation over fighting for your family? The family essentials were Authentic Faith, Intentional Schedules, Discovering Purpose, Right Relationships and Amazing Grace. Did you take any steps to work on the essential that needed the most work?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

When we are in Christ our lives have changed from…

  • Knowing the historical Jesus to knowing a personal Jesus
  • Death to Life
  • Being a fan of Jesus to being a follower of Jesus
  • Me to We

Read: Romans 6 & Acts 8

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? What did you hear?
  2. Describe your baptism. When was it? What did your life look like then?
  3. Which of the four changes do you need the most right now?
  4. Which of the four changes did you need to be reminded of the most?
  5. Baptism is the first step in following Jesus. If you have been baptized, what do you think your next step in following Him is?

Tell Someone Else

Faith in Christ is not a private thing. Baptism is a public expression of our faith in Christ. Have you been baptized? If not, you can sign up HERE.

If you have been baptized, who can you share your faith with now?

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Week 2: Fighting For Your Family

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The word “Fighting” was chosen intentionally, because families are not amazing by accident. There are all kinds of forces working against your family in our society. The family is under attack.

We see throughout history where families are strong, society is strong. Where families are weak, society is weak. Today, there are forces working against your family; economic forces, spiritual forces, moral forces and cultural forces that want to destroy the idea of family.

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. People related to one another by marriage, by blood, by adoption are the foundation of human society.

Where you have strong families, you have a strong society.

This is another reason why all human life is sacred. We are created by God, in His image. Children, from the moment of conception the Bible says are a gift from God. The same worth and dignity is attached to every human being; pre-born babies, the aged, the physically or mentally challenged and every other condition. We are commanded by God and His Word to defend, protect and value all human life. The entire family.


Essentials For An Amazing Family

When the families of Jerusalem were under attack thousands of years ago, the leader Nehemiah said this to the people, 

“After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’” Nehemiah 4:14 NIV

They were under physical attack as members of Jerusalem, but we need this kind of intensity against all the forces coming against our families. Nehemiah’s saying your family is worth fighting for. Don’t just give up thinking it can’t change or it’s too late.

Whether you’re starting out or at the end, it’s not too late to fight to make your family better.

1. Authentic Faith

There are a lot of people that haven’t figured out that there’s more to God than Sundays. There are many people who don’t know that strength, anointing and their abilities come from God.

If you’re just playing church or toying with God and He’s in your life, but it’s not an all consuming thing, you’re missing an incredible relationship where the Holy Spirit guides you in the middle of your situations. A strength that isn’t only in the middle of a worship service, but there for every situation you face.

There is more to God than religion. We want to lead you beyond attending a church on a Saturday or Sunday to an authentic relationship where you are known and loved. It’s dynamic, meaning that God’s wisdom applies to every situation. Before you make that phone call, before you discipline, the Holy Spirit is working with you and you’re reaping the benefit of knowing Him.

Get close to Jesus. The best marriage advice, the best parenting advice or dating advice is get close to God. If you and your spouse both focus on getting closer to God, you’ll grow closer to one another.

“Reverence for the Lord gives a man deep strength; his children have a place of refuge and security.” Proverbs 14:26 LB

Look who benefits from the reverence for the Lord, the children benefit from you putting God first.

2. Intentional Schedules

Great families will tell you they are very intentional about what to do and don’t do. They make time for just being together, for making meals together and playing games together. If you want to know why the families and relationships especially between parents and kids are struggling in our society, let Cornell University tell you.

The average father in the United States spends 7 minutes a day with his kids, that’s 49 minutes a week.

The average father spends 37.7 seconds a day with his preschoolers.

Intentionally spend time together. You’re going to have busy weeks or seasons, because you work hard and provide, but schedule some time together on either side of those times.

“We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.” Psalm 39:6 NLT

Nobody looks back and wishes they’d have gone to more parties or played more sports. They look back and wish they’d have spent more time with the people they love.

“It is better to have only a little, with peace of mind, than be busy all the time…” Ecclesiastes 4:6 GN

3. Discovering Purpose

You can’t discover purpose without God, because He’s the Creator who knows your purpose. You can’t have purpose without authentic faith. When you have purpose, you know how to spend your time.

We need to focus on our family and the unique thing that distinguishes them. Quit trying to be good at everything and focus on the few things God has made you to do with your life.

Parents, there’s an anointing on your life to speak into the life of your kids and help them develop in their spiritual gifts, their passions, abilities and personality.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…” Acts 20:24 NIV

How do you help someone develop in their calling? There are three types of calling we all have.

  • Primary Calling: Know God
  • Secondary Calling: Grow in knowing God in the time and place God has placed you
  • Heart Calling: Your uniqueness

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.” Ephesians 4:29 NIV

Be careful with your words. Don’t let your mouth outrun you. Look at what Jesus did with the kids around him.

“And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:16 NIV

He spoke statements over their lives so they’d be encouraged to fulfill their purpose. He’d show them the anointing on their life and how God made them special.

4. Right Relationships

We are the sum total of our relationships and friendships. Good or bad. You are the product of your friendships.

Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. Look at who your kids hang around with, you’ll see who they become. Look at your married friends, that’s what your marriage will look like. Your friends are a mirror.

This is why we love small groups. The best decisions you’ll ever make in your life are your relationship decisions. The most important question to ask yourself is, “Who should I do life with and who should I reach out to?”

“A mirror reflects a man’s face but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.” Proverbs 27:19 GN

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 NIV

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV

5. Amazing Grace

God’s grace on families is so extravagant. Grace is so amazing, because it makes no sense. Who treats you better than God? He takes all the stuff we do and forgives us.

Relationships need this same grace. There is not a single relationship, there’s not a person on earth that you won’t have to have grace to stay in relationship with them.

Begin by recognizing that your family members are going to mess up. We’ve all blown it, but that’s when we need family the most.

Somebody right now is thinking about bailing on your marriage, on your kids, on your parents. You think they’re unbearable. You think the grass is greener on the other side. The grass is greener on the other side because it’s fake.

The world teaches us that all that matters is how you look, how much money you have or how successful you are. None of it is true.

Our kids are learning a lot of values from movies, from video games, from songs, from their friends, from culture – all these things that aren’t true.

We end up bailing on our relationships based on things that are not true.

It takes the grace of God to be in relationships with others.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NIV

You can offer grace when you go back to the cross. Because the grave is empty, the cross has power. It gives us the power to live in the grace of God.


A Time To Gather Stones

In the book of Ecclesiastes it tells us there is a time for everything. A time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to mourn and a time to dance. They all make sense until you get to verse 5.

“There is a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.” Ecclesiastes 3:5 NIV

This is referring to an Old Testament observance that needs to take place in your heart today. It comes from Genesis 31, where Jacob had an issue with his father-in-law Laban. 

Jacob couldn’t take it any more and decided to run away with his wife and flocks and herds. Laban realizes what happens, gets furious and chases Jacob down across the desert. The night before they were to meet, an angel of the Lord speaks to Laban and says, don’t do what you have planned.

Anybody need this statement right now? Are you making plans to quit on some relationships with your parents or spouse? God may be saying to you what He told Laban, don’t do what you have planned, instead, go reconcile.

Jacob was bracing for the fight. Laban shows up. Laban says these words that now can become our words.

“’Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between us.’” So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. He said to his relatives, “’Gather some stones.’” So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap.”  Genesis 31:44-46 NIV

There are two things you can do with a stone. You can take it and throw it at people or you can take it and pile it up as an altar unto the Lord. Every wrong thing done to you is a stone you can either throw or gather to build with.

You have the choice to scatter your offenses all over the place or you can stack them up before the Lord and make an altar. Try tapping into the grace at the cross and give grace.

What does it look like to gather the stones instead of scattering them?

1. Acknowledge your own mistakes.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NIV

Decide to not focus on the other person’s role and focus on what God has given you to control and you’ll bring your brokenness. Tell your kids you let them down in this situation. Acknowledge your mistakes and lead the way.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5 NIV

2. Abandon your right to get even.

Christians don’t take revenge, Christians forgive. It’s radical, but the other way isn’t working too well is it?

“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 NIV

God will take care of it. Let God take care of it. He will better than you anyway.

3. Apply God’s grace to my relationships.

Maybe you’ve applied it to your life, but not your relationships.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:8-11 NIV


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message or your conversation of fighting for your friends?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

There are certain “non-negotiables” that apply to all aspects of family relationships. Those essential principles must be in place in order to have a home that proves to be both honoring to God, and fulfilling to us.

  1. Authentic Faith
  2. Intentional Schedules
  3. Discovering Purpose
  4. Right Relationships
  5. Amazing Grace

Read: Genesis 31

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? Which of the five essentials do you need to work on most right now?
  2. We must be sure that our faith is “authentic” if we are to enjoy fulfilling family relationships. What are some indicators which reveal the authenticity or lack of authenticity of our faith? What does authentic faith look like in a family environment?
  3. What should have the highest priority when it comes to our schedules?
  4. Part of the role of a parent is to help assure that their children realize their life purpose? What is the most important thing we can do to make that a reality in our families?
  5. How can you more effectively give grace to those you deal with in life? Write down the various ways God has extended grace to you, and look for ways to give that same grace to others.
  6. If there is a broken relationship in your life, determine that you will be the one to take steps to resolve issues and rebuild the relationship.

Tell Someone Else

Your words are the key to great relationships, either building up or tearing down those with whom you come in contact. Have group members pray with one another to allow their words to be “seasoned” with love and grace, leaving in their wake, people who are edified and encouraged.

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Week 1: Fighting For Your Friends

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We’re in the fight of our lives. Are you fighting with the people in your life or are you fighting for them? We’re starting a new series of posts on relationships today. We’re going to start today with friendship.

One of the biggest secrets to success in your life is the friends you choose, the people you are committed to.

When we talk about friendships and making a commitment to people, the first thing we think about is all the people we really don’t want to make a commitment to. Here’s a list of high maintenance people you may be familiar with.

  • The Martyr — Forever the victim and wracked with self-pity
  • The Critic — Constantly complains and gives unwanted advice
  • The Wet blanket — Pessimistic and automatically negative
  • The Steamroller — Blindly insensitive to others
  • The Gossip — Spreads rumors and leaks secrets
  • The Controller — Unable to let go and let be
  • The Backstabber — Irrepressibly two-faced
  • The Cold Shoulder — Disengages and avoids contact
  • The Green-Eyed Monster — Seethes with envy
  • The Volcano — Builds steam and is ready to erupt
  • The Sponge — Constantly in need but gives nothing back
  • The Competitor — Keeps score of everything

Any faces coming to mind? Did you see your own face on any of those? If you don’t think you fall into any of those categories, you don’t need this post, you need therapy.

The culture we live in, is highly disfunctional. There are many hurting people. Hurting people, hurt people. We have the tendancy to push back when people hurt us. If that’s our perspective, our friendships just become the fruit of convenience rather than commitment.


Why You Need Friends

  • For spiritual growth.

You cannot become all God meant for you, by yourself. You cannot grow to spiritual maturity by yourself. Even the Apostle Paul loved friendship, because:

When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.”  Romans 1:12 NLT

  • For emotional support.

You need people who support you. Without a good support system, our emotions are blown every which way. Any storm destroys us.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV

If you’re not helping out with any other friends you’re not fulfilling the law of Christ which is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

  • For better health.

If you don’t have healthy friendships you’re going to die sooner than you imagine. People without friends don’t live as well than people with deep friendships. One of the reasons is friends give you a place to unload your negative emotions.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  James 5:16 NIV

Nothing is harder on the body and mind than concealed sin. Unconfessed, concealed, secret sin creates anxiety, fear, depression, gut issues and mind issues.

If all you want in life is to be forgiven for your faults and sins, just confess them to God. But if you want to be healed of them, if you want to get over them, the starting point is to share them with somebody else.

God says we are to live in the light. That means we bring things out of the dark into the light.

  • For social enjoyment.

Life is meant to be enjoyed, not merely endured. Friendships are the bedrock of a satisfying life. You can make all the money in the world, have all the achievements in the world, have all the pleasure in the world, but if your relationships stink, life stinks.

“God says, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.'”  Genesis 2:18 NIV

  • For reaching goals.

You will never fulfill your goals by yourself. If you can, then you have weak goals. It takes a team to fulfill a dream.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT

How do I develop these awesome friendships? Follow the Golden Rule. Two thousand years ago, Jesus gave us a statement that has become known as the Golden Rule.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 7:12 NIV

Give people what you’d like to receive. Let’s apply this to friendship. If you really want to have great, deep, meaningful, lifelong friendships it’s really simple:

Be the friend that you would like to have.


Six Golden Rules of Friendship

Whether it’s at work, with your husband or wife or in a small group use these 6 things to build great friendships. They will change your life if you will follow them.

1.  Invest the time.

Deep friendships are not cheap. You must choose to invest the greatest commodity in your life your time, energy and effort.

“A man that has friends must show himself friendly.” Proverbs 18:24

Stop waiting for people to be your friend, and you make the effort. Show them how to be a great friend. Don’t just show up when you need something. Show up over and over again.

“Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.” Philippians 2:4

The context of this verse is in a powerful section of scripture that’s describing how we are to live in light of the cross of Jesus. You can’t be a friend to someone without your presence. Physical presence is essential to having a long term, deep friendship. Friends show up.

2.  Earn their trust.

If you want to build friends you’ve got to earn their trust. Trust is what makes it a friendship. This is the difference between an acquaintance and a friend. You talk to acquaintances but you trust your friends.

“Many people declare themselves loyal, but who can find someone who is really trustworthy?”  Proverbs 20:6 GW

How Do You Earn Trust?

People don’t give you their trust automatically. You have to earn it. Honor is given, we’re supposed to give honor to everyone. Forgiveness is given, you are to forgive everyone.

Trust is earned. That’s why friendships aren’t automatic. The Bible says you can earn trust a couple of ways.

  • By being loyal.

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” Proverbs 17:17 NLT

Loyalty is the difference between a friend and a flake. Loyalty is a commitment that says, “I’m going to put you before myself at this point.” Loyalty is the opposite of self-centeredness. Loyalty helps you right now instead of helping his or herself.

“If you love someone, you’ll be loyal to them no matter what the cost. You will always believe in them, always expect the best, and always stand your ground in defending them.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 LB

Love is just loyalty in action. Now if you have been betrayed, abandoned or abused, you probably have some trust issues. Rightfully soIf you need to get some Christian counseling, get it. God doesn’t expect you to trust the person who manipulated you or controlled you, but you can’t build new deep friendships without trust. You can’t build deep trust if you’re always afraid.

  • By keeping confidences.

Everybody needs one person in their life who is safe. The mark of a true friend is they know how to keep a secret.  If you really want people to trust you, you cannot be a gossip.

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13

3.  Listen with empathy.

You can’t love people without listening to people. In a conversation you have to keep making the choice to listen to what they’re saying instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next. One of the main things when interacting in a group is learning to listen to the emotion that somebody’s using rather than just the words. Hearing and responding to their emotions.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20 NIV

If you are quick to listen and slow to speak, you will be slow to anger. What does it mean to listen with empathy? Empathy simply means to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2 NIV

4.  Accept their flaws.

We all have flaws, faults, defects, failings, weaknesses and sins. Nobody’s perfect.

“Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.” Romans 15:7 NLT

That doesn’t mean God approves of everything we do, but He accepts us. You want to know what glorifies God? Accepting people like Christ accepts you.

If you’re married or have friends, your spouse or your friends have some characteristics that bug you to death. Those characteristics are probably not going to change. So you’ve got to decide if you will accept that or be miserable the rest of your life. To overlook someone’s flaws is what the Bible means by acceptance.

“Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9 NLT

5.  Celebrate wins and share losses.

Celebrate the wins of your friends and share the losses of your friends. The Bible commands that we do this:

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15 NIV

Learn how to celebrate not just the good things that happen to you but you need to learn how to celebrate the good things that happen to other people without becoming envious, jealous, critical, resentful or competitive.

A friend celebrates your wins as much as they celebrate their own. If you only know how to celebrate the good things that happen to you, you’re going to be unhappy most of your life.

6.  Bring out their best.

Your best friend is the person who brings out the best in you. The way to get that kind of friend is to bring the best out of someone else.

“Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17 NIV

Do you have friends that will bring out your best? Would your friends keep you from cheating on a test? Would your friends keep you from drugs or get you on drugs? Would your friends cheer your faith on or ridicule it?

Every marriage goes through bumps. You need to make sure that your best friends are as committed to their marriage as you are to yours. Because then when your marriage goes through a tough time, the friends around you are pulling for your marriage, not against it.

“An honest answer is a sign of true friendship.” Proverbs 24:26 GNT

The older your friendships are, the better they get. A man’s best mirror is an old friend. A true friend makes you face yourself. Sometimes a mark of a friend requires frankness, the kind that loves you too much to let you do the wrong thing.

They can speak into your life with grace and truth. Grace without truth is meaningless and ruth without grace is just mean. 

Do you have anybody in your life who you’ve given permission to get in your face with truth and grace? Where do you find friends like that?

Treat people the way you want to treated. 

Be the friend you’d like to have. The best place to get friends like that is at church. Because you’re going to find similar goals and values. If you want to have sincere, deep friendships, join a Dream Team. Serving elbow to elbow with people creates friendships. Attend Celebrate Recovery or get in a Small Group.

Lifeway organization did a study that surveyed Christian church members. They discovered that in an average church, only about 50% of the people say they have developed significant relationships with people in their church family. But people who are in a Small Groups or a Celebrate Recovery Group, it’s 90%.

In an average church, only 42% say they know their spiritual gift and are using it to serve God and others. But for those in a Small group it’s nearly 75%. In a average church, only 45% say they think about Bible truths throughout the day. But in a Small Group or Celebrate Recovery Group, it’s about 75%. You need to be in a small group you need deep meaningful friendships.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on sleep or the frequency series as a whole?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week, we started a new series about fighting for our relationships rather than with our relationships. We learned that we need friends for spiritual growth, emotional support, better health, social enjoyment and reaching goals.

We learned from Matthew 7:12 that we are to be the friend we want to have. So, if you want great friends…

  1. Invest the time
  2. Earn their trust
  3. Listen with empathy
  4. Accept their flaws
  5. Celebrate wins and share losses
  6. Bring out their best

Read: 1 Corinthians 13

Application

  1. God gives us the ultimate example of trust because he loves us and stays with us in any circumstance or situation. How does his example give you courage to trust others? How can you use the biblical principle of loving your neighbor as yourself to grow into a more trustworthy person?
  2. Share a time when a loyal friend made a positive impact in your life. How does your appreciation for their loyalty motivate you to become more loyal to your friends?
  3. Why do you think it is easy to turn to gossip instead of holding a confidence? As a group, create a list of strategies to avoid gossip.
  4. An important part of friendship is speaking the truth in love and not standing silently by watching a friend make a mistake.  Share an example when you either watched a friend make a huge mistake while you were silent, or when you counseled a friend who took your advice and avoided a painful situation.
  5. Read Romans 12:15. Talk about how to rejoice with a friend who is rejoicing and mourn with a friend who is mourning.   

Pray: Father, you are the one who first called us to friendship. Jesus modeled being a friend to his disciples. He calls us to love one another as we want others to love us. Help us develop friendships within our small group, and with others. Give us discernment as we develop trust with others. Let us be an example to the world of a loving and trustworthy friend. May you be glorified as we show the world your love. In Jesus name. Amen

Tell Someone Else

Who can you be a friend to this week? How could this message help or encourage someone else?

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Frequency Week 4 . Sleep

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There’s a secret ingredient when it comes to tuning into our Guide. Something you do every day, but if you miss the power of it, it’s going to be harder to hear your Guide.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

Today we are talking about sleep, more specifically, why we should view sleep as a spiritual discipline. When you hear, “spiritual discipline” most of us think of prayer, Bible reading, fasting, giving, going to church and so on. Often what happens, is people don’t do those things because they think they don’t have enough time.

The reason we don’t pray or read the Bible, is not that we don’t have enough time. It’s that when we do have the time, we don’t have enough energy.

Reading the Bible, praying and fulfilling God’s purposes for your life is hard. If you’re not well rested, if you’re tired, you can’t even do it. You can’t have a serious conversation or read challenging material while you’re tired.

You simply cannot live a spiritually rich life on a sleep deficit.

There are all sorts of ways you can live on a sleep deficit. You can live a successful career life on a sleep deficit or a life of accomplishment on a sleep deficit.

There are all sorts of activities you can do on a sleep deficit. You can watch TV, check email and check things off your to-do list when you’re tired. Connecting with God is one thing you can’t do when you are tired.

God wants us to follow Him. God wants to meet with us, and we can’t stay awake.

There’s a chance to make real spiritual progress, but we’re too tired, so we do a lower activity, a less important activity.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

The Psalmist uses the word “vain” three times. Why is this lifestyle of getting up early and staying up late and getting as little sleep as you can, vain according to the psalmist?

There are things in our lives, in this broken world that fight against sleep, like kids, school, jobs, health problems or physical pain.

The psalmist here, is talking about a mindset that says, “I’m going to disregard sleep, I’m not going to value it, I’m not going to recognize it as a gift from God and I’m going to try and get by on as little as possible.”


Why is Trying to Sleep as Little as Possible, Vain?

1. All the big stuff is out of your control.

God is in control of all the big stuff. That’s what He means when He says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s in vain.” 

You can work as hard as you want, but at the end of the day if God doesn’t want the house to stand, it’s not going to stand.

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

The mindset of the person who tries to get as little sleep as possible is, “It all depends on me.”

We start to believe that it’s all up to us. That if we don’t keep working harder and harder every day and every week, we are going to fall behind and are not going to have enough. All of the big stuff is out of your control anyway.

If God wants it there, it’ll be there. If God doesn’t want it, it won’t be there. That’s the first reason why it is vain and pointless, to sleep as little as possible.

2. Even if you are successful, you’ll be eating the bread of anxious toil.

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil…” Psalm 127:2 ESV

The bread of anxious toil doesn’t taste very good. This is the human problem. We accomplish everything we set out to accomplish. We live in the neighborhood we wanted to live in, we build the house we want to live in, the perfect job that fulfills all our passions and somehow it doesn’t feel the way we thought it would feel.

It doesn’t matter if you get everything you want if you’re so anxious and tired all the time that you can’t enjoy it.

If you have this attitude of, “It all depends on me,” who cares if you reach all your goals, because you will just be eating the bread of anxious toil.

3. It’s massively counterproductive.

Productivity is not the number of things you get done. Productivity is doing the right things.

When you are tired, you won’t know what to say no to. You won’t have the right perspective. When you’re tired you have no self-disciplines and your emotions are out of control. It takes rest to decide what the right things are and you can’t do those things when you’re tired.

So many people experience relapse because they were so tired of the fight. It’s hard to fight against cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, porn, food, affairs and all those things, when you’re tired. Instead of moving forward, we relapse and do things that reverse our progress.

We’re talking about vanity, and the sense of it being pointless. The other meaning of the word vain is concerned with appearances, pride. That applies here too. We brag about the little sleep we get like we’re stronger than others and the Bible says that’s just vanity.

You can brag about it all you want and tell yourself you’re getting more done, but it’s vanity.


How to Sleep More and Better

More and more people’s sleep is being aided by some type of pill or some other form of sleep inducement. There are all sorts of articles online and in magazines with practical tips on how to sleep more and better. Things like going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, room temperature, make sure to work hard during the day so you’re actually tired at night.

All of that can help, but today, let’s focus on the spiritual side of getting more sleep, getting better sleep.

  • Release control.

Why did God invent sleep in the first place?

Sleep reinforces the difference between us and God.

The core of all sin is believing that we are God. When we release control, we are recognizing we are not God.

“He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”  Psalm 121:3b-4 NIV

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” Isaiah 40:28 NIV

God doesn’t need to sleep and we do.

Sleep is a constant reminder that I am not God and I am not in control.

We’re not in control of other people or what happens in the world. Every 24 hours no matter who you are, we have to become like a little baby. Blind, weak, helpless, vulnerable. It’s humiliating if you fight it. It’s humbling if you embrace it. If you embrace sleep, instead of fighting it, it becomes an act of surrender.

Sleep is an act of worship.

We fight for control of our lives all day long. We fight to control the people around us and their decisions and sleep is this act of surrender and this act of worship. Many people would love to sleep more and better, but they can’t because their mind continues to race, because they haven’t trusted God with their lives.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

Peace comes from trust in God.

In the Bible, there’s this time when Jesus is sleeping during a giant storm. How? Because He trusts His Father. How can we release control and trust in God?

When you google, “practical ways to fall asleep” you are going to hear in multiple places, meditate. These sources couldn’t be more right and more wrong at the same time.

How to release control: Consciously Meditate

Most of the time what the magazines and self helpers are talking about is the Buddhist or eastern religious practice, where you sit and focus on your breath. You won’t be able to focus on your breath for 20 minutes, but every time something pops into your mind other than your breath, you release it and focus on your breath again, and it works.

It’s not only an ancient Buddhist practice, it’s an ancient Christian practice as well. But the word mediation has been absolutely highjacked. The enemy can’t create anything so he distorts what God has created.

The Christian practice of meditation is a lot better, because focus on something more than your breathing. You focus on God. There are different versions of this. You can focus on a name of God, like the name Father or Provider, you pray a short prayer over and over again. One of the oldest ones is, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”

But again, you’re not going to be able to. You can’t even do it for 10 seconds. Other thoughts will rush in. We think that’s a bad thing, that those thoughts are the enemy. This is the breakdown in our perspective of Christian prayer and meditation. We don’t think we can rest, because we get so distracted.

Distractions aren’t the enemy, they’re the point.

When you pray, what distracts you? What other thoughts are coming in? Take those distractions and now you know what to pray about. Don’t just pray about the things you are conscious of, pray about the things that are decieving you.

Paul, a New Testament writer, told us to put on truth first, because we get deceived. So we sit there and think and distractions come pouring in…those are the things we release to God.

Don’t start worrying about it or figuring out what to do with this problem, just say, “God this is yours to deal with, I release control to you and I can’t do anything about it.”

If you do that, your sleep quality will begin to change.

  • Remember the resurrection.

One of the things about sleep is this connection it has to death. There’s an African proverb that says, “Sleep is the friend of death.”

Schopenhauer said, “Every day is a mini life. Every time you wake up it’s a mini birth, and every time you go to sleep it’s like death.”

There’s this sense in which sleep is great practice for death, because the same God you have to trust to watch over you as you sleep, is the same God you’ll have to trust in the end when you die.

The connection between sleep and death, is that there is one thing that will keep you awake at night. It’s wondering if your soul is in danger.

Remember this childhood prayer? Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

It’s a very dark prayer, but parents felt like this is where it’s at. This is the essence of peace. The essence of being able to sleep soundly is trusting God with your soul.

How do you get to the point where you trust God with your soul and not fear death?

The way the Christian is able to not fear death is by realizing that death is nothing more than sleep.

Jesus is the one who introduces this terminology. He told His disciples,

“’Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.'”  John 11:11-15 NIV

After the resurrection, the early Christians figure out that his resurrection is not a one off event, but it’s actually what happens to everyone who believes, they start using the same terminology about all Christians who have died.

In the New Testament, Paul talks about different people falling asleep. We pass over that like he’s being polite, but it’s not a euphemism. It’s a very particular and profound statement of faith. We know this, because of the places it’s not used.

After Christ, the term of fallen asleep is never used for an unbeliever, someone who rejected God. For them, it’s just died. It’s over. The phrase fallen asleep is never used with respect to Christ himself. It never says Christ fell asleep, even though he was eventually raised. Why? Because Christ died the death of an unbeliever.

The thing that makes death so awful is the separation from God and in some sense, that’s the definition of death. That’s what Jesus went through. He didn’t just fall asleep. He was separated from God. He died, condemned and with sin on his shoulders. Not his own sin, but our sin.

Because He died in condemnation in our place, we don’t have to experience it. There is no final death of being separated from God. What other’s call death, is falling asleep and waking up, resurrected for a believer.

Remembering that Jesus has already died the final death of condemnation in my place enables me to sleep soundly.

If you can remember the final death of condemnation has already been undergone by someone else in your place, then it will enable you to sleep soundly.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on recognizing God’s voice and testing an impression through the Bible, Christlikeness, Godly counsel and peace?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week, we concluded the Frequency series with the thought, “I simply cannot live a spiritually rich life on a sleep deficit.”

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

Read: Isaiah 40, Psalm 127 and John 11:1-44

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? What was timely for you to hear?
  2. Have you ever reached a goal and been too busy, anxious or tired to enjoy it?
  3. Have you ever made a bad or wrong decision because you were too tired or overwhelmed?
  4. How can sleep be an act of worship?
  5. How did this message change the way you think about the word meditation?
  6. When life slows down, what do you tend to worry about? Family? Money? Work?
  7. Christ died the death of an unbeliever. How can that help us to sleep soundly?

Tell Someone Else

How could this message help or encourage someone else?

 

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Frequency Week 3 . Recognizing God’s Voice

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“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:3-5

Here it says other people are speaking to us, strangers. The world, the flesh, the devil has a voice and is speaking.

Take a look back at our posts on Preparing to Hear God’s Voice and The Whispers of God to find out how you can listen best and how God speaks most.

Today let’s answer the question, “How do we know if what we’re hearing is God, the devil or somethingwe just made it up ourselves?”

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…” 1 John 4:1

There are going to be certain feelings or impressions that lead you one way, but first run them through a few tests, some filters.

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12


Testing an Impression

1. Does it line up with the Bible?

God’s voice will never contradict God’s word. God’s Will, will never contradict God’s word. He will never tell you to violate, ignore or disobey the Bible.

He’s not going to say one thing in the Bible and then say to you something else. For instance, in the book of Romans it says as a matter of conscience, we are to pay our taxes. So as we move into tax season, if you feel led to not pay your taxes or cheat your taxes a little bit, that did not come from God.

Here’s another example:

“Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’ ‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied…”  Matthew 19:3-6

Jesus then goes on to quote the book of Genesis. He quotes the Bible. He asked the Pharisees why they were asking His opinon when it had already been written.

Instead of answering these questions about right and wrong, just point to God and His word. What makes Him God is that He gets to say what’s right or wrong. If we are following Him, we will know the answer.

The context of this passage is divorce, but it could be a number of topics. God does not hate divorced people, He hates divorce. If you are honest, you do too. God hates anything that hurts us. He loves you and he can redeem anything you’ve been through. If you’ve gone through the tragedy of this, God’s word also says that He can redeem and heal anything.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Luke 21:33

So, there will even be a new heaven and a new earth, but God’s word will not need to be new. His word is true forever.

2. Will it make me more like Christ?

In other words, will the thing you are feeling, if you follow through with it, will it make you more like Jesus or less like Jesus? This is God’s ultimate purpose for you. This really is our ultimate goal after salvation. Don’t make it your goal before salvation. You have to meet Jesus, love him and surrender your life to Him before you’ll have what it takes to become like Him. You don’t have to get your act together to become a Christian. Salvation is free. You don’t have to earn it.

Once you’re saved we work out that salvation. Regeneration is going to take place. This means that the more you know Christ, the more you become like Him.

Let Him work on your attitude, decision making and all your choices. We are not where we need to be, but thank God, we’re not where we used to be.

At Rock Brook we help you grow in your faith in two primary ways: Growth Track & Small Groups. Visit the connect tab on our website to find out more about these to pathways to growth.

“In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 2:5 NCV

“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

If you still say,”I don’t even know what Jesus would do.” Let’s look at a list found in scripture.

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, is considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”  James 3:16-18

This is a great grid to think through. First notice he says there are two ways to know it’s not from God and many ways to know if it is from God.

He says if it’s not from God, it’s full of envy or selfish-ambition.

God does not give selfish ideas. We come up with them ourselves. If you have a great idea that’s going to make you filthy rich, everyone’s going to be envious of you and you are going to be the top dog, God says that idea is not from Him. God didn’t put you on earth to bless your selfish ambition and live for yourself.

If you get an idea and it’s from God, it’s going to be one of these things…

Pure: An impure thought is not from God.

Peace-loving: Ideas from God promote harmony, not division. God is not going to give you an idea to create conflict in your family, marriage, small group, workplace or at church. To divide people into this side and that side, means gossip is present and gossip is not from God. When we criticize, condemn and gossip about others, we’re just doing the devil’s work for him.

ConsiderateWill your idea help you but hurt someone else? Then it’s not from God.

Submissive: Teachable, the willingness to have the idea checked by someone else, is submitting that idea to them.

Full of Mercy: Will my idea make me more gracious, more fogiving? You’ve been forgiven, so be gracious to everyone else. God has cut you some slack, do that for others. When you think you hear from God, but you’re critical and always judging others, it’s proof you haven’t heard from God. It takes no wisdom or maturity to criticize others.

Impartial and Sincere: Don’t use what God tells you to manipulate others. If God gives you a dream, you’ll never have to manipulate to see it happen. You may have to work hard, but you’ll never have to manipulate or control. God is in control. When God gives you a dream or a word, surrender it back to Him.

What a great list to help us know if we are growing more like Christ. Here’s another filter we can use.

3. Does godly counsel agree?

You’ll be in a situation where people say different things, look for agreement. When you’re working on something or planning something, there’s power in agreement. Don’ trust every spirit, instead test it to make sure it’s of God.

“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” Proverbs 12:15

The wisest people aren’t the ones who know everything. The wisest people are the ones that know they don’t know everything. Wise people ask questions before they answer questions. Wise people know there’s always more to the story.

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19:20-21

“Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.” Proverbs 24:6

This isn’t suggesting going person to person that when they don’t give you the report you want, so I’ll go to someone else. If you don’t have any agreement, just stop.

4. Do I have peace?

What’s so unique about Christianity is that we don’t just worship an external God, we have God in us. You have this spirit, the Holy Spirit inside of you, and that’s a powerful thing.

You’ve felt it before. You’ve felt the clash of God’s spirit to your flesh wanting to go two different ways. Like the devil on the shoulder and the angel on the other. That’s a cartoon version of a reality.

How does God talk? Peace.

Jesus says it’s a peace the world can’t even give. There’s not a bottle or pill that can give it. God has a peace that the world cannot give. Follow that.

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace…” 1 Corinthians 14:33 NKJV

He doesn’t author confusion, He’s the God of peace. Some of the biggest decisions in your life will have fears, will make you take risks, but there can be a peace with God about it.

Peace is an inner state, regardless of what’s happening on the outside. Now there’s a difference between peace, and justifying. Being able to justify something verses having peace with God about it.

Justifying something is when you find a reason that you tell yourself is a good enough reason to go ahead with something. If peace is an inner state, justifying is a legal argument. We can come up with an argument and justify why we need to buy this or why we need to do this at work, but when all that settles down, do you have peace about it?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Live in such a way that regardless of what you face, you sense this garrison, this army surrounding your heart and mind with peace. Whatever the circumstances, God is able to guard your heart and mind with peace in Christ Jesus.


Frequency

How do you get this peace daily in your life? This series of posts is called Frequencywe’re trying to tune into a frequency, the voice of God. But that word has a double meaning. Frequency also means, often. In other words, we need to tune in to God’s Frequency, frequently. Here’s some ways that God’s Frequency can have some frequency.

  • Tune in to God every day.

So the goal of daily Bible reading and prayer isn’t just to check a box. No, those are tools to tune into God. The ultimate goal of reading the Bible, isn’t to read the Bible, it’s to lead you to the person of the Bible. To know God’s nature and presence.

The goal of getting in the word is to meet the Word, Jesus Christ. Don’t make the moment the goal, but how well you tuned into God. Make time for God every day, slow down to hear his voice.

“When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice.” John 10:4 MSG

People who hear God’s voice are those who spend time with that voice to where they’re familiar with it.

  • Tune out things that oppose God.

You have to actively shut down the voices that oppose God. We should all grapple with how much of the secular, the parts of the world, opposes God.

What in the world doesn’t bother you anymore, but it should?

If certain sins don’t bother you, that’s the problem. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in it, it no longer bothers us.

“They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.” John 10:5 MSG

  • Take steps toward what God has spoken.

Why would God keep talking to you if you didn’t do what he told you before? Take the step.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  John 10:27 MSG

Not only do they hear the voice, they do something about it.

They follow.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on the Whispers of God. God whispers encouragement, warnings, direction and dreams. Have you experienced that this week?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read: John 10 & Philippians 4

To know if we are hearing God, we have to be able to recognize His voice. God’s voice will never disagree with His Word, so when we are wondering if God really spoke to us, we can ask ourselves,

  1. Does it line up with the Bible?
  2. Will it make me more like Christ?
  3. Does godly counsel agree?
  4. Do I have peace?

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? What was timely for you?
  2. Does it line up with the Bible? Why won’t God contradict what he says in his Word? How exactly do we test what we perceive to be God’s voice against the Bible? Share a situation when God guided you. How did it line up with God’s Word? On the flip side, share a time when you were contradicting the Bible. What happened?
  3. Will it make me more like Christ? What is the difference between wisdom motivated by envy or ambition and wisdom that comes from God? (James3:16-18)
  4. Does Godly counsel agree? Who is a believer that you have gone to for advice? If you don’t have anyone, spend this week praying for God to show you someone you can find Godly counsel in.
  5. Do I have peace? What is God’s antidote to worry, anxiousness and confusion? Share a time when following God relieved these negative feelings.
  6. Tune in to God every day. Tune out thing that oppose God. What are you doing to take steps towards God this week?

Tell Someone Else

This week, pray using 2 Corinthians 10:5 –  “We take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” As you go throughout your week and in your prayer life, challenge yourself to take every thought and spoken word and make them obedient to God’s word as you encourage others.

 

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